FAQ’S | Swift Mastering

  • Frequently Asked Questions

  • Last Updated March ’15

  • What Mastered For iTunes (MFiT) Means?

    Swift Mastering is officially certified by Apple as an authorised provider of MFiT masters.

     

    What does “Mastered For iTunes” means?

    This means that when you commission the delivery of MFiT masters from us, you can be rest assured that they will meet the strict Apple guidelines and that they won’t be rejected by iTunes.

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    What is the difference with Apple’s MFiT masters?

    The difference lies in the way the masters are prepared and optimised for the new iTunes Plus AAC encoder.
    Mastered For iTunes masters will have a tighter bottom end and smoother top end (when compared to the normal AAC for iTunes) making them sonically closer to the original uncompressed masters.

    Apple’s Sound Check

    One of the main advantages of having your masters MFiT ready, is iTunes Sound Check.
    Sound Check is a feature built into iTunes where the loudness of all albums in your playlist is analysed before playback.
    This way, all albums will play back at roughly the same level (same technique is used in Radio Broadcast).
    The problem here is that uber-loud masters will therefore be played back at lower levels, whereas quieter and more dynamic masters will played back louder.
    The downside of super-loud masters is that, when loudness-matched to more dynamic and less squashed masters, they will always sound flatter and with less punch.

    In other words, you could consider the whole of the MFiT program, as  Apple’s answer to the epic Loudness War!

    As a general rule, MFiT masters will always have more headroom and be more dynamic.

    For more info about Mastered For iTunes Program, please visit the Apple website:

    Apple Official MFiT Page

    Or just give us a call on 0207 4986691 or email us

    What Is a PMCD or P+Q CD?

    A P+Q audio CD, more commonly referred to as PMCD (Production Master CD), is a Red Book standard CD that is used by pressing plants for CD duplication/replication.

    Due to the highly delicate nature of this procedure, a normal audio CD burnt with a standard CD writer is normally not good enough.

    Unless specialised hardware/software  is used for the creation of a PMCD, the undetected errors presented could lead to a rejection (and  session cancellation) by the plant.

    In order to avoid this, people normally ask the mastering engineer to take care of that.

    A PMCD produced by a mastering studio will come with several documents to certify the integrity of the medium.
    These documents are produced only after rigorous tests have taken place

    Because of the lengthy procedure involved in making a PMCD, every mastering studio  charges extra for this.

    We only use Plextor Drives and Taiyo Yuden CD-R’s

    What Is Mastering?

    Mastering, in a few words, is the QC process that makes sure your music will sound as good as possible, on as many sound reproduction systems as possible.

    Why Are You So Expensive / So Cheap?

    We have heard both!Here at Swift Mastering we like to think we have priced our services in the fairest way possible.
    Sure there are other studios out there who have cheaper prices than us, but we pride ourselves on delivering a high quality of service.
    Let us give you some examples:

    1. We do not master “in the box” and we do not use templates either. All the mastering jobs we undertake are treated on an individual basis using our analogue mastering chain.
    2. Our room has been carefully designed and tuned in order to achieve +/- 10dB across the spectrum
    3. We do have a dedicated QC (quality control room) where your masters will be checked thoroughly before we send them to you
    4. Your mastering session will be automatically backed-up on our server for a period of six months. No need to worry about losing your masters.
    5. Real credits
    6. Fifteen years experience in the business.
    7. Free consultation and mixing evaluation. You are welcome to discuss your mixes directly with the ME either over the phone or in person!
    8. We are the first mastering studio in the world to offer true interactive online mastering. Please check our online page for more details.
    9.We love what we do!

    Why Are Attended Sessions More Expensive

    This is a very common question.
    It would be easier if we changed this question to “Why is online mastering cheaper?”.
    Online bookings are cheaper, because we slot your session in our time table in a way that suits us. In other words, we allocate online bookings in studio downtime. That means we will set our date of delivery around slots of studio time which are not yet booked. Therefore discounted rates can be applied.
    Attended sessions are generally more expensive, because you are charged full studio rates. This is because in doing so you reserve a specific studio time for yourself when no other bookings can be taken.
    This is a very common practice embraced by many commercial mastering studios.

    Are There Any Differences In Quality Between Online and Attended Sessions?

    Absolutely not.
    The only difference between them is the turnaround. Both sessions go through the same rigorous procedures:

    1. Careful listening to the whole track
    2. Analogue EQ and Compression (if needed)
    3. Surgical M/S EQ/ resonance removal
    4. Analogue or Digital Limiting
    4. Spectral Cleaning (if needed)
    5. Top and Tailing

    For online sessions, you’ll probably have to wait around 5 working days max.

    If you attend the session, you’ll have your P+Q master by the end of the day.

    Could You Check My Mix Before I Am Sending It For Mastering?

    At Swift we are firm believers that the better your mix is the better the master is going to sound.
    It is  therefore in our interests to make sure that your mix is sounding as good as it can be.

    You are very welcome to get in touch with us if you have any doubts about the suitability of your tracks for mastering.
    Please keep the following only as a rough guide:
    1. Try  avoid putting anything on the master bus. Any processor on the master bus could compromise the whole mastering process
    2. Please try not to overcook your mix. Keep it at a nice level of about -15dB RMS / -3db PK (both dBFS)
    3. Remember that bass is the principle cause of boosting the overall RMS
    4. Check your mix with headphones at low level for distortion/glitches etc.

    What About Hidden Charges?

    There are no hidden charges.
    Every quote you receive from us is inclusive of all the charges.

    If any extra work is required, from what was originally requested or planned, it will be charged as an extra but only after you have agreed to this.
    Let’s suppose for example you decide to re-mix your track (after your track has already been mastered) using a different vocalist. We will immediately let you know that any new mix of the same track will be treated as a new submission and you will therefore be charged accordingly.

    We will notify you of this by email.

    No work will be carried out until we receive a written acknowledgement from you.
    We believe that transparency in business is the key to success and therefore you will never be asked to pay more than what has already been agreed.

    Do I have To Pay Extra For An Alternate Mix?

    By alternate mix we mean any variation from the original main mix. A classic example would be submitting for mastering both the full and the instrumental/PA mix.
    This is very common for artists who might have to perform live using a backing track and want to make sure the outcome of their performance won’t be compromised by a poor sounding mix.

    Another reason could occur when a radio station requests a “clean” mix without profanities to be passed on their playlists.

    At Swift Mastering we do most of our work using analogue gear. This means everything needs to be done in real time with the machines being perfectly calibrated. Sometimes, tweaks for the instrumental version are needed too.

    Needless to say that if a recall is needed all of the above has to be performed twice.

    All this contributes to extra time and work for the ME.

    This is a simple standard practice adopted by all mastering studios around the world.

     

    Do I Have To Pay For CD's?

    All materials including CD-R’s, Audio CD’s, P+Q Masters, DVD’s and P&P will always be included in the original quote we send you.
    However, you do also have the option to use your own CD’s (except for the production of P+Q Masters) if you wish.

    Please bear in mind that the studio will not take any responsibility for any errors/defects that might go undetected should you choose to use your own media.

    P+Q Masters will be produced exclusively using our own studio CD’s. This is because of the critical nature of such CD’s which are going to be ultimately used for replication.

    Is it possible to have a new mix submitted?

    One question we are asked from time to time is if it is possible to have a new mix submitted for mastering instead of the old one.
    This normally happens when it has become clear that the original mix had some mixing issues which cannot be addressed in full at the mastering stage.
    Sometimes clients assume that because the mastering settings have been saved, it is a simple procedure of slotting the new file into Samplitude, replacing the old one and then exporting the new master.
    Unfortunately this is not the case. As all our mastering jobs go through our analogue chain, it is therefore impossible for us to produce a quick new version. Everything needs to be: recalled/re-calibrated/re-recorded and finally re-exported and sent via ftp.
    This is the main reason why we are forced to consider any new submission as a brand new track and therefore charge accordingly.
    Some mastering studios do all their mastering jobs “in the box” and for them it is just a matter of minutes. For us it could take up to an hour (especially when the original masters were signed off and all the re-call sheets may have already been shredded).

    Why Do I Have To Pay A Deposit?

    When the studio is very busy and if your project involves more than 4 tracks, you’ll be asked to pay a deposit towards your online mastering session.
    The main reason is because of the studio’s time schedule that has become so busy should you decide to cancel your session for any reason. It would simply have a financial impact on the studio. Other sessions might have been postponed or even declined because of our commitment towards you.
    This is why we will never give a definite delivery date unless a deposit has been paid.
    Attended sessions will always require a deposit.

  • Need More Help?


    Just get in touch and let’s see what we can do to help with your project. Alteratively, pop in for a coffee to discuss the details of your project.

    Free Sample Request


    If still in doubt, just contact us for a free sample request.

Knowledge Base

01. Free Sample Request

Just get in touch for a free 60 seconds  sample request. In busy times we may have to politely decline


02. Payments

We normally ask for a full payment for any outstanding amount left in your account before releasing the final draft of the masters. This is normal practice adopted by all commercial mastering houses across the world. We are fully complying to PCI DSS standards and have received a Trusted Commerce Certificate by TrustWave.

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03. What if I am not satsfied?

In 15 years we have never been asked for a refund! Sure, sometimes we do not get it completely right at the first attempt, but we always manage to clinch it on the second one, after a brief chat.  Moreover, our 3 steps online mastering service is structured in such a way that it makes it impossible for us not to make you happy!
We know that “trust” is a big word and that we should earn it before requesting it, this is why you can contact us for free test sample to check if we are really this good!